Duke Blue Devils
Duke (Head Coach: Mike Krzyzewski, Atlantic Coast Conference) – Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history, will enter his 40th season at Duke after leading the nationally-ranked Blue Devils to a 32-6 record, the ACC tournament title, and a spot in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament…Duke is paced by Tre Jones, who led the Blue Devils with 192 assists while netting 9.4 ppg…Duke welcomes a Top 5 recruiting class led by the nation’s No. 3 recruit, center Vernon Carey, Jr…the Blue Devils are making their fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1999, 2008, 2015)…they won the 2008 title and the 2015 title with an 86-84 win over Georgetown.
Georgetown (Head Coach: Patrick Ewing, Big East Conference) – After a Hall of Fame playing career, Patrick Ewing will enter his third season as the head coach at his alma mater…after winning 15 games during his first season, Ewing guided the Hoyas to 19 wins and a spot in the NIT in 2019…10 players return from last year’s roster, led by a trio of sophomores who rank among the team’s top four scorers – James Akinjo (13.4 ppg, team-high 173 assists and 37 steals), Mac McClung (13.1 ppg), and Josh LeBlanc (9.1 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 36 blocks)…joining this group will be N.C. State transfer Omer Yurtseven, who averaged 13.9 ppg and 6.7 rpg a year ago…this is Georgetown’s third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (1998, 2015).
Texas (Head Coach: Shaka Smart, Big 12 Conference) – In his four years, Shaka Smart has led Texas to two NCAA Tournaments and guided the Longhorns to 21 wins and the NIT title this past season despite playing the eighth most difficult schedule in the country…the Longhorns return a pair of starters in junior guards Matt Coleman (9.8 ppg, team-high 127 assists) and Jase Febres (8.7 ppg)…they will be joined by the No. 16 ranked recruiting class (ESPN.com) in the country…the Longhorns are playing in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project for the sixth time (1997, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014), having won the 2006 and 2014 events…Texas beat Cal, 71-55, to capture the 2014 Classic.
California Golden Bears
California (Head Coach: Mark Fox, Pac-12 Conference) – With a career record of 286-176 that includes stops at Nevada and Georgia, Mark Fox assumes control of the Bears’ program this season…he inherits a team led by point guard Paris Austin, who netted 11.6 ppg and handed out a team-best 125 assists…Matt Bradley tallied 10.8 ppg while leading the team with a .472 3-point field goal percentage…Cal is making its fourth appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project (2004, 2009, 2014).
California Baptist Lancers
California Baptist (Head Coach: Rick Croy, Western Athletic Conference) – In their first season of Division I basketball, the Lancers posted a 16-15 record and earned a berth in the College Basketball Invitational…two starters return from that squad…guard Milan Acquaah was a WAC first-team honoree and the Newcomer of the Year after posting team highs in scoring (19.0 ppg) and assists (104) while also hauling down 5.0 rpg…forward De’Jon Davis led CBU with a 9.2 rpg average to go along with his 13.0 ppg average…CBU is making its Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project debut.
Central Arkansas Bears
Central Arkansas (Head Coach: Russ Pennell, Southland Conference) – Four starters return for head coach Russ Pennell, a UCA alum and former teammate of Scottie Pippen who enters his sixth year at his alma mater…guard DeAndre Jones tallied 12.5 ppg and led the Bears with 162 assists and 66 steals a year ago…center Hayden Koval was named to the SLC all-defensive team for registering a team-high 6.3 rpg and 72 blocks…the school’s all-time blocks leader with 177, Koval also scored 12.5 ppg…the Bears last played in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project in 2007, going 1-1.
Georgia State Panthers
Georgia State (Head Coach: Rob Lanier, Sun Belt Conference) – Long time Texas and Tennessee associate head coach Rob Lanier returns to the head coach’s chair this year with Georgia State…Lanier was head coach at Siena, guiding the Saints to the 2002 MAAC title…he inherits a team that won the Sun Belt championship in posting a 24-10 record…the Panthers will look to a veteran backcourt to offset the loss of their top four scorers from that NCAA Tournament team…Kane Williams is the team’s leading returning scorer at 11.1 ppg…he also handed out 116 assists and had a team-best 64 steals…Damon Wilson tallied 5.4 ppg…the Panthers are playing in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project for the first time.
Prairie View A&M Panthers
Prairie View A&M (Head Coach: Byron Smith, Southwestern Athletic Conference) – Last year, Byron Smith led PVAMU to the SWAC regular season and tournament titles, marking the first time ever that the Panthers won both crowns in the same season…the reigning SWAC Coach of the Year sees two starters return from that team, led by first-team All-SWAC pick forward Devote Patterson, who recorded 13.5 ppg and 5.0 rpg…guard Gerard Andrus netted 10.0 ppg to go along with 5.7 rpg…PVAMU is making its third appearance in the Empire Classic benefiting Wounded Warrior Project, previously playing in 2008 and 2015.
Duke Blue Devils
Hall of Fame head coach Mike Krzyzewski, the winningest coach in college basketball history with 1,018 wins, led the Blue Devils to their fifth National Championship and a 35-4 record last season…the roster boasts four returning rotation players in Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson, Matt Jones, and Marshall Plumlee…the Blue Devils bring in the top recruiting class in the country, highlighted by three McDonald’s All-Americans (Brandon Ingram, Luke Kennard, and Chase Jeter) and standout point guard Derryck Thornton…Duke will be making its third appearance in the 2K Classic (1999 and 2008), winning the 2008 title. Official Site
Head coach Bo Ryan is Wisconsin’s all-time leader in wins, amassing 357 victories in just 14 seasons…last season the Badgers claimed the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles with a 16-2 league mark to go along with a 36-4 overall record in advancing to the Final Four for the second straight year and the Championship Game for the first time since 1941…11 players, including two starters, return in 2015-16, led by junior forward Nigel Hayes (12.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and junior guard Bronson Koenig (8.7 ppg, 98 assists)…Wisconsin will be making its first 2K Classic appearance.
The Hoyas went 22-11 a season ago under the direction of head coach John Thompson III, who, in 11 seasons at Georgetown, has won 249 games…the Hoyas feature a roster with 10 players back from last year, including a trio of starters…senior guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera led Georgetown with a 16.3 ppg average as well as with 101 assists in earning first-team All-Big East honors…sophomore forward Isaac Copeland averaged 6.8 ppg and 3.8 rpg…this will be Georgetown’s first 2K Classic appearance since 1998. Official Site
VCU is under the direction of new head coach Will Wade in 2015-16, who returns to VCU after two successful seasons at Chattanooga…the Rams, 26-10 a season ago, boast a roster featuring 10 returning players, including three starters…among those returning are senior guard Melvin Johnson (12.4 ppg, 60 assists) and junior forward Mo Alie-Cox (7.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg)…this is the Rams’ first ever 2K Classic appearance. Official Site
In 2015-16, the Bulldogs posted a 16-15 record in advancing to the semifinals of the Northeast Conference tournament…head coach Tim O’Shea is in his eighth season at Bryant, having taken over when the school made the jump to Division I…three starters return, led by second-team All-Northeast Conference pick junior Dan Garvin, who was second on the Bulldogs in scoring (10.9 ppg) and first in rebounding (7.9 rpg)…senior guard Shane McLaughlin led Bryant with a 4.8 assist per game average while netting 7.5 ppg. Official Site
Prairie View A&M
Head coach Byron Rimm II is in rebuilding mode at Prairie View where he looks to replace four starters from a squad that posted a 15-18 mark a year ago and reached the semifinals of the SWAC tournament…senior guard Jacoby Green played in all 33 games last season, starting 10, and posting an average of 3.7 ppg…junior guard Jayrn Johnson also played in all 33 games and netted 4.4 ppg…the Panthers last appeared in the 2K Classic in 2008. Official Site
The Highlanders recorded a 22-12 ledger in advancing to the quarterfinals of the CBI for the second straight season last year…the 22 wins also marked the second-straight 20-win season for Radford, which won 20 games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1998…head coach Mike Jones is in his fifth season at Radford and has turned around the Highlanders, winning 19 games in his first two seasons and 44 in his last two…two senior starters return: guard YaYa Anderson (9.3 ppg, 50 assists) and center Brandon Holcomb (6.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg). Official Site
Siena returns three starters from a year ago, one of which appeared in only six games…junior forward Brett Bisping, the MVP of the 2014 CBI, had surgery on his toe in December and missed the reminder of the season…junior point guard Marquis Wright (12.5 ppg) is the Saints’ leading returning scorer while junior swingman Lavon Long posted 10.4 ppg and a team-high 4.9 rpg…head coach Jimmy Patsos is in his third year at Siena. Official Site